Did you know that wineries produce an entire year’s wine vintage in just a two month window of grape harvesting? If mother nature doesn’t cooperate, the fruit isn’t picked at the right time, or we get off schedule, things might go awry.
Because of that, Union Wine Company (and most wineries around the world) hire Harvest Interns, the miracle workers that help ensure our harvest runs smoothly. Working directly alongside our winemakers and our production team, this year’s team of 30 Harvest Interns have watched fruit turn to wine (and everything in between).
We asked Sarah Richins, Union Wine Company Harvest Intern, to tell us all about her harvest experience. Without further ado, we’ll let Sarah take it from here.
I started at Union Wine Company last month to work my first ever harvest. We have interns from Chile, Brazil, South Africa, and even Ireland – it is amazing to hear people’s stories and what drew them to working a harvest in Oregon.
Since I started, I have gone from terrified of driving a forklift to operating all kinds of machinery like a pro, I have dug out a tank full of grapes in less than three hours, and I have newfound respect for how much work it takes to craft the perfect Pinot.
Here’s some more things I have learned while crushing the 2018 harvest.
- I am way stronger than I think.
- Forklifting is like riding a bike – you have to keep practicing, and after you haven’t been on it for a while you can pick it up again (sometimes after a few failed attempts).
- Getting dirty is fun, and definitely part of the process – so get ready and always bring a change of clothes.
- It’s always important to ask for help. You have to know what you’re doing first in order to execute it properly later.
- Staying up until 3AM with coworkers is OK – we all need nights out to dance away to 60s/70s funk. Plus, we work the swing shift, so 3AM is the new 10PM.
- Food tastes better after working a harvest. The amount of food I consume now is the same as when I was training for a marathon.
- There is no bond like a harvest shift bond. Nothing beats co-workers turned friends.
- It’s okay if you have a bad day where nothing seems to be going right – we ALL have those days. Just remember that it will get better and keep your attitude high.
- I am even more obsessed with wine than I was before and can’t wait to continue to learn and grow in this field.
- Your hands will be dyed purple forever – get used to it.
If you want to learn more about the winemaking process, or just want a killer upper body, I highly recommend working a harvest at Union Wine Co. I can guarantee you will never take happy hour for granted again.
Editor’s Note: if you are interested in working next year’s harvest, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.